Commonwealth citizens

High support for free movement of some Commonwealth citizens – poll

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The majority of Commonwealth citizens in Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand would like an EU-style system of free movement between the four countries, a new poll indicates.

The survey, commissioned by the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS), shows a high level of support for reciprocal rights to live and work freely in each other’s nations.

Some 75pc of Canadians, 58pc of Britons, 70pc of Australians, and 82pc of New Zealanders of those questioned supported free mobility.

“Collectively we possess a unique bond which needs protecting. We share a language, a legal system, and a Queen,” Tim Hewish, director of policy and research at the RCS and author of the report, said.

“This is shown most visibly on all our passports with the Queen or her representative ‘allowing the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance’. Free labour mobility zones offer a contemporary way to demonstrate the deep ties between our peoples and I urge governments to discuss practical ways achieving this,” Mr Hewish added.

Almost 5,000 Commonwealth citizens in the four countries were surveyed since November last year.

Canadians aged 18-29 are the least supportive of a free mobility arrangement, with 71pc backing the move. Those aged 30-39 were most supportive, as 77pc were in agreement.

The UK, which is due to hold a referendum on its EU membership on June 23, had the least support of the four countries for such a move.

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Some 58pc of Britons support free movement, while a fifth are opposed and a quarter are unsure. Those in London and Scotland were most supportive, where 63pc liked the idea.

The survey is a part of a broader research involving Commonwealth citizens being carried out by the RCS, and follows an opinion article by London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson.

In it, he outlined his support for free labour mobility between the UK and Australia, writing: “We British are more deeply connected with the Australians – culturally and emotionally – than with any other country on earth.”

Mr Johnson has publicly supported a departure from the EU, a so-called ‘Brexit’, in the June referendum.

An online petition to support free movement for Commonwealth citizens in the four countries was created last year by the Commonwealth Freedom of Movement Organization, based in Vancouver. It now stands at over 100,000 signatures.

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